Oculus hits back at Zenimax's VR legal threat

Christopher Dring
Oculus hits back at Zenimax's VR legal threat

Oculus has comprehensively refuted Zenimax's accusation that the firm stole technology from the Elder Scrolls publisher.

The complaint stems from the involvement of John Carmack, the studio founder of Zenimax-owned developer id Software. Carmack left Zenimax in 2013 to join Oculus full time.

Oculus says not only did it not take any intellectual property from Zenimax, but that Zenimax prevented the Carmack from working on VR and cancelled support for Doom 3 BFG when OCulus refused to meet Zenimax's demands for a stake in Oculus.

Zenimax claimed last week that it played a major role in the development of Oculus Rift, which is currently being sold to Facebook for $2bn, and that it has rights to the VR technology. It said in a statement that "ZeniMax's technology may not be licensed, transferred or sold without ZeniMax Media's approval

"ZeniMax provided necessary VR technology and other valuable assistance to Palmer Luckey and other Oculus employees in 2012 and 2013 to make the Oculus Rift a viable VR product, superior to other VR market offerings.

The statement continued: "The proprietary technology and know-how Mr. Carmack developed when he was a ZeniMax employee, and used by Oculus, are owned by ZeniMax. Well before the Facebook transaction was announced, Mr. Luckey acknowledged in writing ZeniMax's legal ownership of this intellectual property.

"Oculus has used and exploited ZeniMax's technology and intellectual property without authorisation, compensation or credit to ZeniMax. ZeniMax and Oculus previously attempted to reach an agreement whereby ZeniMax would be compensated for its intellectual property through equity ownership in Oculus but were unable to reach a satisfactory resolution. ZeniMax believes it is necessary to address these matters now and will take the necessary action to protect its interests."


Oculus has responded with the following:
 
We are disappointed but not surprised by Zenimax’s actions and we will prove that all of its claims are false. In the meantime, we would like to clarify a few key points:
 

- There is not a line of Zenimax code or any of its technology in any Oculus products.
 
- John Carmack did not take any intellectual property from Zenimax.
 
- Zenimax has misstated the purposes and language of the Zenimax non-disclosure agreement that Palmer Luckey signed.
 
- A key reason that John permanently left Zenimax in August of 2013 was that Zenimax prevented John from working on VR, and stopped investing in VR games across the company.
 
- Zenimax canceled VR support for Doom 3 BFG when Oculus refused Zenimax’s demands for a non-dilutable equity stake in Oculus. 
 
- Zenimax did not pursue claims against Oculus for IP or technology, Zenimax has never contributed any IP or technology to Oculus, and only after the Facebook deal was announced has Zenimax now made these claims through its lawyers.

-Despite the fact that the full source code for the Oculus SDK is available online (developer.oculusvr.com), Zenimax has never identified any ‘stolen’ code or technology.

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Tags: bethesda , john carmack , zenimax , doom , oculus , oculus rift

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